Catalysis for Bioresources

Dr. Eszter Baráth

Since, catalysis represents the center of chemicals and energy industries, discovering active, highly selective and energy efficient catalytic/synthetic methods is crucial to a sustainable future. Starting from fundamental aspects to design, testing and applying of robust and selective catalytic processes could have an incredible positive impact not only on the chemical but on a broader range of the society. Our group focuses on various selective catalytic reactions for the transformation of bio-based starting materials to valuable chemicals. We use both, homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysts for this purpose.

One of our main field is the investigation of hydrogen transfer reactions. Our topics are strongly linked to advanced synthetic and characterization techniques, to (physical) organic chemistry and to theoretical chemistry. Hydrogen transfer is clearly the purview of homogeneous catalysts, however one of the major challenges for a sustainable future will be how to translate the homogeneous understanding to heterogeneous counterparts.

Another line of research is to create new pathways from biomass or platform chemicals to value-added products. Novel reactions are always subjected to mechanistic investigations. We also consider general feasibility of processes (i.e. how safe / green / economic they are).

The research in our group also evolves around incorporating low-valent (low oxidation state) phosphorus atoms into ligand architectures to tune the electronic and steric properties of metal complex and to tailor them for catalytic applications in small molecule activation. In addition, we investigate different strategies to transfer phosphinidenes (species of the type R-P), to realize unusual chemical bonds and to make phosphorus containing materials. All studies are supplemented by theoretical investigations regarding bonding and modes of formation.